Government goes ahead with plans to extend paternity leave rights

The government has announced today that it will go ahead with its plans to make the second six months of maternity leave transferable between parents.

The new right, announced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown today, would allow women who have had a child and return to work after six months to transfer their unused six months to their partner. This will mean that fathers can take up to six months leave, half of which is paid.

Sarah Jackson, CEO of Working Families, said: “It also marks a step forward in terms of changing the attitudes of employers to new parents. Gender inequality in the workplace is estimated to cost the UK a staggering £23 billion. We cannot afford to carry on throwing away money and talent like this. This small step will begin to make fathers visible at work, and may help employers reconsider outdated assumptions that care for a new baby will automatically be 100% the responsibility of the mother.”

However, Joanna Cowie, head of legal at HRInsight, said that many businesses are concerned about the impact the changes will have on administration processes.†

She said: “The initial response from businesses is that the new rules will be time-consuming and expensive to administer, at a time when they are likely to be struggling to recover from the recession. Small businesses, in particular, are concerned about the likely effect of having to pay for temporary cover and the difficulties posed where both parents are employed by the same employer.

In October 2008 the government postponed its plans to increase paternity rights until 2010, before putting them on ice in June 2009 because of the economic climate.

For more news on childcare and family friendly benefits click here